Italy: Biodiversity makes difference for red chicory

The road-show held on 16 November 2015 about Radicchio Rosso di Treviso IGP and Variegato di Castelfranco IGP was part of a European campaign to promote PDO and PGI fruit and vegetables from France, Italy and Germany.

Red chicory was not at all affected by the consumption crisis - just think that sales in Italy went from the 40,000 tons of 2007 to 67,000 in 2014 (+67%).

The "Venetian model" is a successful one, especially since excellent quality is combined with great care for the land where the product is cultivated. The Consorzio tutela Radicchio Rosso di Treviso e Variegato di Castelfranco organised a visit to one of its parter companies, biodiverse Azienda agricola Nonno Andrea, with the exact purpose of showcasing it.

The company is owned by Paolo Manzan (in the photo below), president of the Consortium, is located north of Treviso and covers 70 hectares. It specialises in the cultivation of vegetables, red chicory in particular, but it also grows fruit and makes organic honey.

It cultivates 230 tons of red chicory on 25 hectares, while another 15 are dedicated to Variegato di Castelfranco and produce around 120-130 tons every year.

The uniqueness of Radicchio di Treviso PGI is due to the whitening stage, when roots are submerged in running spring water for 15 days. That is when its core (in the photo below) - that can be eaten both raw or cooked - develops. It is indeed quite a special part, as it only represents 30% of the weight of the whole head!

"We try to follow all sustainability principles by employing agricultural techniques that respect the environment and biodiversity. We are committed to safeguarding the flora and fauna of our territory as well as the quality of air, water and soil."

Processing of red chicory.

"With this type of management, we have also managed to half chemical treatment costs, which represent 20% of all production costs. Nonno Andrea products have the "biodiversity friend" mark, which guarantees the healthiness of the cultivating environment thanks to the monitoring of microorganisms."

And that is not all - to guarantee the perfect balance of the ecosystem, the company also plants specific hedges and places specific insects. In addition, thanks to the assistance provided by OPO Veneto, it was possible to start using pelleted fertiliser, antagonist mushrooms and mycorrhiza as well as mature organic matter, which reduce the need for fertilisation and chemical defence systems.

Nonno Andrea also has a shop where you can buy local fresh produce, jams and preserved vegetables.

Author: Raffaella Quadretti

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